At one Japanese golf course, residents won’t be coming to hit the irons. Instead, the rolling greens will be used for a very different purpose: providing solar energy to a nearby community.
The Japanese multinational company Kyocera is planning to cover an abandoned golf course with a 26 megawatt solar power plant and generate enough energy to power 8,100 homes.
Abandoned golf courses are ideal candidates for conversion into solar farms. Environmentally, they’re already scars on the landscape, and even unwanted shadows cast by the solar panels is an improvement on the huge amounts of water that golf courses suck up when active. They’re also pre-flattened, and very often they’re in sunny climes. In short, they’re perfect environments for solar panels. Land is also in short supply in Japan, so recycling abandoned patches is good practice.
The facility will be in Kyoto Prefecture, and it will be the prefecture’s largest solar plant. Alternative power sources are essential in a country still wary of nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster. The golf-course project joins a floating solar plant a reservoir in Kasai City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan last year, and solar project in Kanoya City and Osaki Town in Kagoshima Prefecture that will power over 30,000 homes.
Kyocera is doing good work, but you could also view these pilot projects as advertising. The company manufactures solar panels (it’s been in the business for 40 years), and is in talks with U.S. cities in Florida, Utah, Kansas, and Minnesota, where “overdevelopment of golf properties during the real-estate boom of the 1990s and 2000s has led to hundreds of idle courses today that are now under analysis for repurposing or redevelopment.”
What if we could take all abandoned golf courses–often envioronmentally-dubious projects to start off with–and turn them into renewable energy powerhouses? It is an interesting idea.